San Diego Sailcast Episode Recap

Episode 004 - Joe Chinburg

By Jared Wohlgemuth, Casey Allocco | September 17, 2018

Joe Chinburg is the President of the US Finn Association, Owner of Dinghy Racing USA and a Firefighter for Arvada, Colorado Fire Protection District. In today’s news, a big congratulations goes out to Team SDYC “Board Shorts and Beards” in Newport, Rhode Island this weekend for winning the New York Yacht Club Resolute Cup. Skipper Tyler Sinks and his crew Max Hutcheson, Nick Kaschak and Nick Martin earned their spot at the NYYC Invitational Cup next year! Also this weekend at SDYC was the 2018 Finn Pacific Coast Championship. Robert Kinney in AK47 came in first place. A special shout out to SDYC Commodore Mike Dorgan in Finnster coming in 5th overall. Watch out next weekend for the Finn Masters North Americans.

Joe visits SDYC for some Finn regattas from Arvada, CO, where he has a very large sailing group on three major lakes to enjoy. He jokes about the amount of wind shifts compared to the San Diego area and the tough parts of sailing on the gorgeous lake. Joe tells us about buying a Finn six years ago on Craigslist when he couldn’t fit on a Laser. A few more folks reached out to Joe about the Finns and they created a fleet on Union Reservoir.

While San Diego has the biggest Finn fleet in the country, you can find plenty of other fleets all around the US. Joe explains the fleet as the “heavyweight dinghy for the Olympics” with sailors around 180 - 250+ lbs.

Joe explains racing a Finn. “It’s like a little Labrador puppy, when the wind is down it’s fun to play with, and when the wind gets up it’s like getting a puppy riled up, it starts getting crazy on you, starts trying to bite you, gets all over the place and out of control. But, it’s really fun and you just can’t stop playing with that little puppy.”

Joe is the only one in the US selling parts all in one place for Finns. He tells us about taking over his friend's Dinghy Racing USA business and how beneficial it is to take his trailer full of parts to regattas all over the country. He also tells us about some of his recent regattas including the famous Toilet Bowl Regatta, the longest running Finn regatta in the country and their coveted toilet bowl trophy.

As President of the US Finn Class, he tells us about the different projects he’s working on, including a new National Ranking System where you can compare yourself to other Finn sailors around the country. He talks about the friendships formed in the class and his wife and son’s enthusiasm to his sport (while also exploring, shopping, and having good discussions.)

Joe tells us about how big the Finn class is in Europe, one recently hosting 353 Finns, and how the Finns will never go away. He hopes to meet his suppliers face to face in for the Finn Masters Worlds in 2020 in Holland. He says that Japan is also growing with the fleet preparing for 2020 Oylmpics, as well as healthy fleets in Australia and New Zealand.

He names some of the big Finn sailors, one being Henry Sprague out here in California. Henry won the Gold Cup in 1974, and his sail number (74) represents that. Joe reflects on one of his first encounters with Henry Sprague and when he learned that he was racing the slowest model Finn out there. He continues with stories from Fort Lauderdale and capsizing in shark infested waters. “That was the fastest I’ve ever swam in my life… I pretty much just jumped out of the water into my boat like a dolphin.”

Joe recommends finding a club who has a Finn fleet to start sailing and possibly finding a coach. If you go to the North American Finn website (, you can speak with area VPs that will connect you to local Finn sailors. He tell us about some of the expenses you can expect to find with a Finn while reflecting on a few really nice boats he’s come across.

Joe plans to keep Dinghy Racing USA ( successful, having fun and continue learning as much as he can about sailing and Finns.